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Children having triple the amount of recommended daily sugar intake


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Children in Kent aged between six and 10 are consuming nearly triple the recommended daily sugar intake.

A typical youngster gets through an average of 260 packets of crisps, 208 bags of sweets, 156 cans of fizzy drinks, 260 biscuits, and 208 chocolate bars a year, according to a survey.

It found other favourites such as cakes, sugary cereals, and glasses of fruit juice, mean children regularly consume up to 63g of sugar - equivalent to 16 sugar cubes - a day.

This is way above Public Health England's recommended maximum daily intake of 24g - just over five sugar cubes.

And it's feared living in lockdown could exacerbate the problem as hardship and availability issues push families to buy cheap, unhealthy food.

Psychologist Anjula Mutanda, who lives near Canterbury, said: "Children often get a taste of sugar at a young age and this can encourage an appetite for the sweet stuff as they grow up.

"Providing a variety of foods that test children's palette, including more simple and natural foods like fruit and popcorn, rather than crisps and chocolate, can often help children's taste buds adjust and ensure they don't always crave sugary snacks."

The results of the survey, carried out by Arla Explorers, also highlighted children significantly underestimate how many sugar cubes are in everyday foods.

A child eating a sugary snack
A child eating a sugary snack

Rhiannon Lambert, a registered nutritionist said; "Providing kids with healthy and tasty snacks can sometimes be a minefield and we often make the assumption that their preference is for sugar.

"As we've seen from the experiment and research, this isn't always the case.

"Kids do enjoy simple and natural snacks, especially when given a choice, so parents should be thinking about replacing some of the unhealthier snacks with foods high in fibre such as fresh fruit to reduce their overall sugar consumption."

Another key issue for parents is the number of hidden sugars in food with research from the University of California in San Francisco showing it is often disguised on food and drinks labels with any one of 61 different names such as maltodextrin and sucrose.

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Another key finding of the survey, which polled 2,000 parents and children, was that when given a choice youngsters are actually happy to pick fruit over snacks such as chocolate and crisps.

Ms Mutanda said: "It's really interesting to see children choosing healthier options over unhealthy as this isn't something we as adults would always expect.

"Children often get a taste of sugar at a young age and this can encourage an appetite for the sweet stuff as they grow up.

"Providing a variety of foods that test children's palette, including more simple and natural foods like fruit and popcorn, rather than crisps and chocolate, can often help children's taste buds adjust and ensure they don't always crave sugary snacks."

This was brought to life when survey participants were asked to taste food that contained a secret ingredient.

Children were presented with what looked like a normal brownie to taste, in which all gave a big thumbs up to, yet later found out the secret natural ingredient was sweet potato.

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